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Soul survivor- DN's strange experience

(148 Posts)
DalmationDots Tue 27-Aug-13 21:51:05

My sister and her niece came over yesterday, DN has recently come back from the Soul Survivor camp. I have heard of it before but thought it was a sort of music festival, big church services etc type event. I am not christian.

DN went with her youth group, she wasn't particuarly religious before - she went to the group to socialise. On Monday she spent the whole time telling me about how God cured people there of things like cancer, blindness and other disabilities. She truly believed this had happened. She said she went up to the front and committed in front of thousands her faith. She said she felt like she fainted and that was god taking over her life and body.

My sister later, away from DN, said she was a bit concerned how intense the experience was, and perhaps a bit brainwashing. Apparently the talks were also so intense she cried.

Both me and my sister have no problem whatsoever with DN being a Christian, she loved her time there and I'm glad she is such a sensible, lovely girl. I'm not trying to be anti-religion in any way, but I was just shocked this scale of event happens and how they look after the young people who could get really worked up about it all. Is DN's experience usual? How do they stop (accidental) brainwashing occurring and let the young people make up their own mind with such drastic and extreme worship?

Anyone got more experience? Thanks

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 09:23:46

The wine at the wedding was a bit of a public spectacle (in fact I read that story the other day and thought it was quite blingy tbh. yy I get the spiritual significance of mundane water being turned into something with power).

He also performed healing miracles in full view of the masses - eg mixing the paste in the mud for the blind man; and of course there's Lazarus. That was in full view of everybody. Sometimes he told people to keep healings quiet but I assume he had his reasons.

I've been to churches with all the charismatic bells and whistles and people falling about etc. I got bored and uncomfortable with it and I'm not sure where I'm at with it tbh, especially the falling over business. But I asked someone to pray for me at the end of a church service not long ago, when they were packing up the chairs and hardly anyone was about. He prayed a very ordinary little prayer - with his hand on my head (I actually put it there lol) - and there was no question that a power thwacked me and my knees went weak. I had to struggle to stay upright (but I was determined!). And that was with a sceptical mindset, so I'm sure God can do just what he likes, how he likes, for his own reasons.

I'm no fan of the big worship events with lots of lights and music and people but that is because I'm a middle aged old and would prefer a nice cup of tea and a sit down brew

Emotion is part of religious experience and it can happen on top of the bus CS Lewis style, or at a church service, or in the middle of a labyrinth or making tea at the soup kitchen. It is easy to get hooked on the religious high but the hard work of faith is living it out and loving your neighbour when you don't like them much, forgiveness and turning up each week at a church which may not be exactly to your taste but that is part of the deal about being a Christian. Add in some social justice as that is what Jesus commanded Christians to do in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting those imprisioned and most teenagers (and adults to be fair) fall away as it is hard.

My own DS is back from Greenbelt which is a Christian arts and music festival. No altar calls there but it does keep him going till next year through the everydayness of being a Christian.

If DN wants to learn more about the faith she has just made a commitment to then Mumsnet is a good place to start.

Opps - that link should take you to rejesus - shouldn't cut and paste!

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 10:07:10

Then link it again green ?

I've just watched the Soul Survivor you tube thing someone linked upthread - and called odd?? It wasn't odd, it was a festival and everyone was having a good time - as you do at festivals! Not to everyone's taste, of course, but that's your choice. I thought it was lovely seeing all those kids having a good time. What is the alternative, sitting in a dank church hall in hand-knitted sweaters playing ping pong?

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:30:00

Hi stem. I'm not a Christian anymore but used to be and have been to many of those types of meets along with the dryer common or garden Sunday service. While I now see the whole religion shebang as an 'appeal to the emotions' there is something distinctly manipulative about the slicker more charged meetings that are geared at impressionable youths. As for the comment about banning 1D concerts, as far as I know 1D don't claim to offer their fans eternal life or healing and so on so the analogy is false.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:37:38

The best way to shield our kids from this stuff is to model critical thinking and make them aware of the methods used in 'advertising' wether they're pushing religion or chewing gum.

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 12:53:39

Imho not sending DC to religious brainwashing camps also works, too.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:58:20

What is the alternative,

The alternative is having a good time at a concert without being told that what they're feeling is supernatural.

It's not just the youths that get this treatment. Google Rodney Howard Browne According to Christianity Today, Browne's ministry is known for its focus on what he calls "signs and wonders", characterized by laughing, making animal noises, trances and "falling under the power" during his evangelistic services.[3] This gave rise to the term "holy laughter", and "Holy Ghost bartender"

When I was a Christian I watched stuff like that and thought, ooh they're having a great time blush. I watch it now and I'm almost speechless. As someone further down explained there's a big dose of the Emporers Clothes about these meetings and religion in general.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:01:32

Have to say I did go to a Christian summer camp several times when I was younger but it wasn't OTT at all. It pretty much was playing ping pong for 2 weeks and I loved it! I was a strange child. smile

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 13:11:30

Of course, emotion is going to be involved in religion experience. I am quite high church, and I freely admit that the music and smells and bells at Mass appeal to the emotions. But that doesn't mean it can't also be true or valuable. Our emotions are engaged by pretty much every significant event of our lives.

But, as someone else said, if you employ some critical thinking - the whole miracle/talking in tongues/hyper thing is a hallmark of a particular type of thing - it is by no means representative of Christianity as a whole. It seems to be pushed by a few 'personalities'. As someone else said, it reaches a point where it starts to contradict what Jesus actually said about how we should live our faith. It becomes very ostentatious, manipulative and 'we're the best'.

Maybe I'm just an old (26!) fart, but the hyper-pop song thing just seems misleading. I'm not saying all Christian festivals etc. are bad, of course not. Where I draw the absolute line is when they try to ponce money off people. Then it's just a scam.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 13:16:12

So I suppose, by that reasoning, we should stop taking our kids to weddings - which celebrate two people joining together in a legal partnership. Which is generally promoted at weddings as a Good Thing and enjoyable; a cause for celebration. Which is not necessarily brainwashing, it's having a good time, partying.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 13:23:27

took me blardy ages to type that, pc kept freezing - it was in response to cote's comment about christian brainwashing.

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 13:29:48

I almost wish I was sent to one as a teen.

"The energy in this room is the Holy Spirit"
"No, it's not"
"We just cured cancer"
"No, you didn't"

If you think I'm blunt now, you would have loved me back then. I used to ask people if they realise how stupid it is to believe in stuff there is no proof for. Imagine how popular I would be grin

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:52:06

the whole miracle/talking in tongues/hyper thing is a hallmark of a particular type of thing

They're in the NT though. Jesus made some big claims about the stuff his followers would be able to do. With those scriptures in mind you can't criticise the Christians who act like they believe it.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:55:55

cote. I've often wondered how fascinating it would be for me to go back to a meeting now after all these years. I suspect they would be very interesting but would feel a bit naughty being there just to observe the psychology of it. Like if I accidently laughed out loud the preacher might say 'oh Lord, you're blessing this lady with your joy, thank you' etc etc which would make me laugh even more and it would just go on.

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 13:56:49

Yes but my point is you don't really see it in other denominations in the modern world. It's just a bit suspicious that the ones who proclaim all these grandiose things also just happen to be the ones who want money off you...

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 13:57:50

springy - That is not the reasoning at all. Nobody tries to convince children at wedding parties that some supernatural stuff is going on and that they should pledge the rest of their lives to promoting this woo.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:00:30

So I suppose, by that reasoning, we should stop taking our kids to weddings

No one claims that being married confers supernatural powers. We don't teach children that being married means you get to live forever. Neither do we teach that they have to be married. It's not the emotions that are being critiqued it's the content of the message; Jesus died for you, you need him, the holy spirit is in this room etc etc.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:01:46

Did the Soul Survivor people want money off the OP's DN? Sorry didn't see that bit.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:06:46

proclaim all these grandiose things

But it's biblical! It's the NT that promises all this stuff, some denoms just water it down, I think, to preempt the cognitive dissonance that would arrise from actually expecting it to happen.

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 18:18:02

no head, someone else was saying they went to a similar thing and were expected to give money. I would be properly shocked if they were trying to get money out of children.

My comprehension of the NT is probably not advanced as yours, but although I remember the apostles doing stuff like that (also, isn't there an alternative interpretation that 'speaking in tongues' actually meant 'speaking in other tongues, i.e. other languages not what these places mean by it) and this was a miracle because they were uneducated Galilean fisherman and so for them to suddenly start speaking lots of foreign languages would have been miraculous. St Paul also said a lot of stuff about the real point of the Holy Spirit being much more subtle, and the miraculous stuff being, at best, a tertiary benefit and should not be focused on too much.

My main beef with this issue is that it is basically telling people 'If you are a real Christian, you will experience all this stuff because you are truly open to the Holy Spirit. People who don't experience it, aren't proper Christians, but you do, because you're special and proper'. It's divisive and it puts a lot of pressure on people to experience God in a certain way.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 20:04:03

Soul Survivor is predominantly a celebration. The spiritual stuff was promoted at the dank church halls back in the day and is right on the money (arf) as far as the christian message is concerned - but because it's now got a party wrapped around it it's somehow suspect. Isn't it rather white british middle-class to assume that anything worth its salt supresses emotion? It's a cultural take on life in general that is not necessarily shared by the rest of the world.

It could also be argued that a marriage is indeed a spiritual union and a church wedding ceremony makes that very clear. Do you propose to keep your kids away from those weddings for fear they'll somehow get proseltyzed into a dangerous cult? At weddings we generally celebrate - and, yes, get emotional, as well as serious. So we're flakey if we have a little weep at the cute bridesmaids, blub a bit when we see the beautiful bride and have a bigger, more serious, weep when the b&g exchange their vows. We cry (or I do) because it's just lovely but it's also serious.

I do take exception to being called 'stupid' cote . It's breaking talk guidelines apart from anything else. It's also a cheap shot - which could be levelled back (eg no-one can 'prove' love and yet the human race in its entirety, almost, understands it and signs up to it). Do pack in the name-calling and sneering - ditto the 'no you didn't/no it isn't', like that's earth-shattering revelation but sounds like smarty pants to me - perhaps appropriate at the smarty-pants age, teendom, but not now.

Ditto the jabs of 'yeah, and anyway , these deluded idiots just want your money' <bray>. I agree that some churches can't trust God to sort out the church roof and they resort to the money shit - which I find tiresome, as I said upthread; but they're not the only org that makes it clear that people are going to have to dig into their pockets if they want to see something they value continue - as a community enterprise (I heard recently of a parish that legally stipulates you have to chip into the church fund if you live there - ingenious!). It's not seen as a horror in other orgs, so what's the deal with the church? It seems to be just a way to take an ill-thought-out swipe.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 20:08:00

re the spiritual snobbery you allude to stem - I think that's covered in the pharisee who prays at the wall, thanking God he is so unbelievably spiritual, unlike the dork next to him. People can be snobs, it's not new. Extremely unpleasant though, I agree.

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 20:17:26

Anyone been to these festivals and seen if they have methods in place to prevent things getting out of hand, a child getting too emotional and distressed/overwhelmed or too much peer pressure/brainwashing?

I guess what I'm interested in is not whether it is all right or wrong (that is very much subject to opinion and personal religious beliefs) but whether the organisers recognise that the way they run their festival can lead to some children being highly emotionally vulnerable or, as my DN felt, believing they were having physical symptoms e.g. fainting?
Do they have adults who act as non-opinionated and neutral (not for- or against- God) counsellors to help the children who are new to all this or need to chat things through (and perhaps bringing down to reality a bit)?

Do these organisers have points at which they draw a line and remember that these are young people, whose understanding and critical thinking is not as strong as an adult and who we have a duty of care for?

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 21:07:51

Very good point dalmation.

ime of big events like this, people either arrive in a church group or are assigned to groups, with trained leaders (eg we saw on the youtube clip that 'adults' were very much in evidence) ie a clear structure is employed. People who respond to 'the gospel call', after the initial discussion with trained leaders, are furnished with a printed pack and generally kept an eye on, if appropriate. The team point them in the direction of a local, or appropriate, church to be looked out for there - and will generally keep an eye on them until they are settled. Howeve,r some don't want to give their contact details and that is respected: there is a clear tension at this point because they won't force and are mindful to keep that balance between invitation without being pushy, and will back off if the respondent doesn't want 'direction'; but will nevertheless ensure the respondent is furnished with relevant info eg the printed pack.

As for activity within the meetings, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has worked on one of the (many) teams - I know that the training is rigorous and not just anybody old anybody can get on them.

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